Hainan scandal as much about money as sex

By Ken Xu Source:Global Times Published: 2014-4-14 23:33:01

The annual Hainan Rendez-Vous exhibition show has again been put in spotlight with allegations involving organized sex services, following last year's revelation of scenes of drunkenness and debauchery.

This time around it all came from an undercover report by Phoenix Entertainment that young girls were recruited for and involved in sex parties during time of the four-day trade show in Sanya in southern Hainan Island, which features yachts, private jets, sports cars, jewelries and so on.

The story has gone viral despite the disclaimer by the former organizer of the event, China Rendez-Vous, that they had nothing to do with the alleged activities. Type in a key word linked to the event on the Internet you'll find pages of posts with comments and speculation on the alleged orgies for the rich. Though the allegation has been unconfirmed, it is a fact that scandals make good news stories.

It's also about the widening gap between rich and poor. The Hainan Rendez-Vous exhibition highlights the high-end lifestyle of the country's super rich with all kinds of luxury products plus parties with pretty girls.

But at the same time, there are still about 200 million Chinese who live under poverty line based on the World Bank standards. For ordinary folks, it's almost a crime to flaunt one's wealth in such a public way, and the illicit sex is only the cherry on the cake.

It also probably stirs the beasts hidden in the hearts of many in today's China, where getting rich is glorious and everyone is trying to rise head and shoulders above others.

Last year, there was talk of models who could make 600,000 yuan ($96,600) or 700,000 yuan in four days during the event. For regular income earners, that amount of money is a tantalizing fantasy.

As a matter of fact, because of the notoriety of this event, stars from the entertainment industry have actually distanced themselves from it this time.

This year, only 60 people with a net worth of at least 2 billion yuan were invited to a grand party. Some of them were surrounded by beautiful models, but we cannot leap to the conclusion that the law was broken.

Finally, I feel compelled to point out a note made by the reporter at the end of the Phoenix Entertainment story. Despite the shocking claims about how much a girl could charge, 6,000 yuan a night, the note says they are mostly from rural areas, poorly educated, share apartments to save money, and don't even buy iPhones as it's deemed too expensive.

You cannot help but wonder how much of these girls' income truly depend on the annual Hainan Rendez-Vous exhibition, and how much they're part of an industry characterized by the exploitation of rural poverty. Rather than singling out the exhibition, we should stay levelheaded and wait for the facts to be clear.

Ken Xu, a freelance writer based in Beijing

Posted in: Viewpoint

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